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The Life Good Blog

Labeling Part II ADD and ADHD

Consider a world where children are robbed of their excitement, their creativity, their imagination, their energy and the spark of light that makes them uniquely who they are. You can see them now in classrooms and homes across America. They are the millions diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. We adults accept this.

I will take you on a journey through a little history about the new age diagnosis and its impact it’s having in our culture. In part one of this post on the topic of labeling, I described my experience of having a brother, a daughter and a son who have been labeled or who have self labeled themselves ADD.   Below is the research I have done, prompted by curiosity and complete puzzlement on how these labels came into existence.  Here are my findings…..

The earliest roots of ADD take us back to almost a century ago when…

In 1905 Ernst Rudin founded the Geran Society for Racial Hygiene, co writing the sterilization laws with Nazi leader Hinrich Himmler and a fellow psychiatrist Kallman. The main focus was the research of schizophrenia.  Hinrich Himmler and Kallman defined schizophrenia as inappropriateness of thought, emotion or behavior.

Studies published by Kallman defined behaviors associated with Schizophrenia as “the unsociable, indecisive, bullheaded, malicious tyrants, daydreamers and those who were cranky” to name just a few of the adjectives used.  The definitions weren’t too scientific and were littered with judgmental and social overtones.  These diagnostic criteria are virtually identical to the ones used today to diagnose ADD.

This same doctor who defined these symptoms of Schizophrenia was half Jewish and was forced to flee Nazi Germany. He came to the United States where he became hailed as America’s leading psychiatric geneticists. His studies were published in the Journal of American Psychiatric Association.

Kind of scary don’t you think?

In 1970 the American Handbook of Psychiatry stated, “at risk children thus far indicate the pre-schizophrenic child has difficulty filtering stimulus input and has problems in attention leading to school difficulties and social problems.”

Twenty years later research on “at risk” children netted a government panel of experts to sanction amphetamines for use on hyperactive children.  At that time the symptoms were seen mostly in males, due to their genetic theory claiming the disorder was carried in the male chromosome.  The drug approved was Ritalin.  Ritalin has the same base properties as those fed to schizophrenia patients.  The side effects of amphetamine like products include impotence.

Schizophrenia had thus evolved into today’s attention deficit disorder.

In 1980 the official year that the term ADD was coined for active children who did not pay attention in school. Does this sound familiar? Psychiatrists used to tell parents and teach that most children outgrow hyperactivity, but today it has evolved into a life long illness with life long medications.

In 1991 the US Department of Health Education and Welfare mandated that teachers actively seek to identify ADD children and refer them for treatment. Most of the information available to parents of children with suspected ADD are supplied by the makers of the drugs used to tranquilize them.

This was shocking evidence to me.  It is based on someones filtered view and subsequent labeling.  We buy into pharmaceutical giants greed and culturally buy in to what is considered abnormal.  As a result suddenly ADD and ADHD is affecting  this country with many other countries close behind.  According to research presented by R.D. Hawkings, slightly less than 5.5 million children ranging in age from 5 to 17 were diagnosed with ADHD in 2009. When you look at the definition in its earliest form, I ask you how many of us day dream, are cranky and yes inattentive.

Could you consider just for a moment, that our culture and society may need to adjust to these creative, expressive and though different than what our culture has defined as normal, yet have so much to offer our world?  Might we consider that perhaps we need to accommodate their active minds instead of tranquilizing them?  Perhaps we need to rethink the motives behind the diagnosis and labeling of ADD and ADHD before buying into that consciousness.

What if our education system might need to adjust the way they teach. Shifting away  from the tired ways of  the  one size fits all mentality, or shoving the round into the square space , then determining when they don’t quite fit there must be something wrong with these children. Perhaps these new souls have arrived on this planet with the soul purpose of shifting our thinking away from the way it’s always been done.

Imagine an education system that doesn’t suppress,  hold hostage and tranquilize  these bright and creative energetic beings but instead inspires and encourages with a new way to educate them by utilizing their strengths and interests. These energetic souls have arrived here to teach us instead of the other way around.  If this is true, how will medicating them enable them to bring about this change?

What are your thoughts?  Please feel free to share your thoughts on this post.  I encourage all opposing views and of course the supporting ones.

Resources for this blog post include:

Foundation for Truth in Reality, Freedom Magazine volume 21, Issue 1. Article Index

The Myth of Attention Deficit Disorder

The cult of mental illness

Covert chemical Castration

ADD in Wender-land

Dangerous Drugs

Exposing the myth

My next post will offer a new perspective on the mis- diagnosis and mis- labeling of these wonderful souls who have been labeled inaccurately.  Yes I have some experience with this as well. Till next time….

Epidemic of Labeling Part I ADD and ADHD

I’ve put off writing this post but it has been nagging at me internally for months.  I think this post must be written in order for me to move forward and past the nagging.  I never have liked nagging.  The questions and arguments I have been having with myself prior to writing this post is… what does this subject have to do with the business of coaching?    I have come to conclude it has everything to do with coaching.  This post subject will need to be written in multiple parts in order to completely share this perspective and the research I’ve done on the subject of ADD and ADHD.

Coaching is about enlightenment, discovery and forward movement.  Today my inner voice wins! The topic of labels and particularly ADD or ADHD is one that I have personal experience with.  My hope is to enlighten adults as well as adults with children who have labeled themselves or are currently taking medication for ADD or ADHD.  I pose these questions to readers of this post:

Why do we place so much trust and belief in something  like ADD and ADHD that no one can fully explain?

Why do we quickly resolve to revert to medication as a solution, based on a set of conditions that automatically label ourselves and our children?

Why do we buy into whatever our culture and more importantly the pharmaceutical companies are selling?

Why don’t we question everything before we give it a label?

Why do we assume there is only one way to resolve ADD?

Why is it that outside of the US an ADD diagnosis is relatively unheard of?

ADD and ADHD are labels that I frequently hear people use when they have trouble focusing.  It’s often used loosely like other culturally infused phrases and sometimes as an excuse to make up for a lack of attention given to people, conversations and projects. Some people use it to explain why they haven’t made progress on their life dreams.  Others have bought into the cultural term and some have agreed with the psychologists on behalf of their children and decided to medicate.

First hand experience

I have an adult son who could be labeled ADHD, who has referenced this of himself multiple times throughout his life.  He has always had a talent for art, especially in illustration and a beautiful imagination.  He currently makes a living with his art. He has never been tested and claims a lack of focus and feels hyper at times.  I have a daughter who is now almost 21 and was told she was ADD around age 15, at least  by the definition and testing used by a psychologist.  She is gifted in music and can hear sounds and tones in music that most people don’t hear.  She sings, writes songs and is a socially and environmentally engaged contributor to our world.  She is  full time college student with an internship, holds a part time job and lives independently in another state.

My younger brother was diagnosed at a young age with hyperactivity, before the term ADD and ADHD was widely used.  He was given Ridlin as a child. He would have been 50 years old if he had lived.  He’s no longer with us as he fell into alcohol abuse in his twenty’s long after he stopped taking Ridlin.  In his early 30’s he took his own life.  He was highly creative artistically, curious and gifted with the ability to do impressions of just about anyone.  He made everyone laugh.

When my youngest daughter was a child, she was interestingly different.  Curious about everything,  gifted linguistically and musically inclined.  She started talking at ten months and singing in tune by age three.  She hated tags in her clothing and I would have to remove them from everything.  She refused to eat certain foods due to their texture and her food could not touch each other.  So casserole’s were out of the question.  She needed a different utensil for each food item on her plate.  She was hyper sensitive to smells, sounds and the moods of other people.  We had some very frustrating moments especially in the morning.  One example of this was when I had to get to work on time,  I would put her shoes on and she would take them off  because the seam in her sock wasn’t perfectly aligned.  I wouldn’t see anything amiss so I would attempt to fix the problem and put her shoes on.  She would proceed to take them off again.  I found myself carrying her shoes on many mornings.

She had one speed.  Hurry up wasn’t part of her makeup.  I would have to wake her up extra early so we could be on time, waking her up early to give her the leisure to eat her breakfast slowly.  I also discovered difficulty in adapting to quick changes.  By this I mean needing to give her plenty of notice when I had to be somewhere or to run errands.  If she was busy playing,  I would have to let her know even before she could tell time that in 10 minutes we would be leaving, then five minutes, then three, then two minutes.  This seem to work better than just telling her “c’mon we have to go right now.”  The warning system that notified her that change was about to occur worked so much more effectively and she became more cooperative about switching from one activity to another.  I purchased a book called the “Difficult child” because clearly this unusual behavior must be labeled difficult.

In the first grade, during conferences with her teacher, was the first time I encountered the recommendation to have my daughter tested for ADD.  Of course I asked the teacher why she thought so.  The rather elderly teacher, ready to retire the next year, started the conversation with “Winter Birds”.  I looked puzzled by this statement and almost chuckled out loud. “We’ve been studying winter birds and your daughter, instead of paying attention was braiding the hair of the girl in the seat in front of her”.   I asked how long they had been studying winter birds?  Her teacher replied “two weeks”.  I told her teacher that perhaps my daughter had learned all that she wanted to learn about winter birds in the first week.  I came to the realization that I myself wouldn’t want to learn about winter birds day in and day out.  I didn’t think my daughters actions warranted buying into the ADD label and consequential testing, especially over the subject of winter birds.

In the third grade my daughter came home telling me that she was going to “pull her hair out”  if  the teacher said one more time “take out your math books and turn to page 21”, in the same tone of voice, in the same way every single day. My daughter would mimic the teacher’s monotone voice and all I could do was laugh.

She displayed an interest in music before she could speak full sentences, directing me to change the station on the radio until what she called “clown” music was found. I figured out quickly clown music was classical music.

Math was difficult for her but other subjects were somewhat easier.  To help her with math I found it necessary to become very creative.  We played *’mother may I math* a game we had invented.  She and her friend would compete answering the multiplication tables and when they got the answer right she or the friend could take a step forward.  We made a geometry twister game out of an old sheet and made a spinner with the geometric designs on the spinner.  It was played the same as Twister and helped her to identify the shapes easily. She responded well to this type of interactive homework assistance.

Studying was difficult for her.  When  lists of spelling words were difficult to remember we used what she was most interested in to help her remember.  We put the spelling words to music and sang them instead of reading them over and over. She received 100 percent on most of her spelling tests after this. She passed every grade with decent grades. By capitalizing on her interests… it made learning much less frustrating for both of us.

She was easily as frustrated with the dull and repetitiveness of school, pretty much from the beginning.  I frequently had to discuss with her the reasons why teachers taught the way they did. It wasn’t easy to keep her interested in learning.  I refused to have her tested for ADD and would not play into the cultural epidemic of  all children must behave and learn the same way.


In her junior year of high school, my daughter came to me and asked to be tested for ADD.  Her teachers by now had sufficiently convinced her that her focus was an issue.  She compared herself to her peers and how easily they learned and was now thinking about her future. S he didn’t want to struggle her last two years of high school.  She talked with the majority of her friends who were taking prescribed medication for ADD, and those who would buy a pill from a friend when a big test was on the horizon. These friends convinced her how much easier it was for them to focus and do well.  She came to me and we discussed it.  Against my better judgment, I made an appointment from a referral by her doctor.  She went through a battery of written tests and a conversation with the psychologist.  At the conclusion of this one hour meeting the doctor handed us his diagnosis.  You guessed it… he said she had ADD.

She was placed on medication which would need monthly approval from the doctor to obtain a refill.  She started the medication on a weekend and what I observed was amazing.  She was very focused she told me, but felt odd.  She couldn’t really describe it.  That evening she picked at her dinner and barely ate anything.  Day after day on this medication I noticed a child who was much different then the one I had raised to this point.  She had trouble sleeping and eating but boy was her focus and listening skills exceptional.

After she had lost the first 10 lbs, I contacted the doctor about the weight loss.  It had gotten to the point I had to force her to eat.  I would tell her she couldn’t go out with her friends until she finished a plate of food.  The doctor switched her ADD medicine to something different hoping this would allow her to sleep and eat.  Shortly after starting this new medication, the school office called to let me know that my daughter wasn’t feeling well.  I spoke with her on the phone and she complained of a rapid pulse or fluttering in her chest.  She went to see a heart specialist who couldn’t find anything of merit.  She had mood swings that put her in a depression some days and others that were normal.  Some might think it was associated with just being a teenager but I felt it was more pronounced now on this medication.

The doctor put her on yet another medication for ADD, and this just worsened the lack of eating and sleeping.  She claimed to feel somewhat more focused at school but I didn’t see a remarkable difference in her ability to study.  Her grades in certain subjects were always B grades.  Math was a struggle and continued to be.  The most interesting observation of all was the classes that she did well in were also ones that she was challenged in.  She got A’s in those classes and it qualified her to move into honors English class.  The difference those classes made looking back, are the ones that made her stretch more.  Around that same time she started *picking*.  Picking at her her scalp and her skin uncontrollably.

Eventually we both concluded that the medication made things worse.  It changed the light hearted fun child that I used to know into a zombie.  She had lost 15 lbs and three or four medication switches later, she decided and I agreed that she would stop taking them.  She put weight on, slept better and returned to her joyful full of life self.  Her moods seemed to be leveling out, even though there was never a chance of avoiding the typical teen drama.

During her Senior year before she graduated, I consulted with her doctor about the picking of her scalp and her skin which hadn’t subsided after stopping the medication.  The doctor referred us to a psychiatrist to determine the problem.  The doctor suspected OCD and thought it would be a good idea to find out what could be done about it.  The psychiatrist concluded that she had Trichotillomania. The solution was for her to take anti anxiety medication.  She rejected this idea.  Since she would be starting college in the fall there wouldn’t be a way to monitor the effects of this medication and part of the treatment was to be monitored.

She was accepted to a college in Chicago and we located a psychologist in Chicago to work with her on this new condition labeled Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is in the obsessive compulsive family of disorders according to most resources on the subject. I t is described as pulling of the hair resulting in noticeable hair loss in one or more areas, including the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows etc.  I was unable to understand how someone who never had this condition would just suddenly acquired it.

After several meetings and discussions about this issue  along with the history of being diagnosed with ADD, her new psychologist requested the results from the ADD testing done back home.  She told him how ineffective the medication had been and also shared with him the many specific things about smells, textures and sensitivity to moods of people around her she had experienced as a child.  Even though she had outgrown some of the sensitivities she maintained many of them.  The psychologist told her he didn’t think she ever had ADD but instead was HSP.  He concluded this based on her description of how she reacted to the medication.  My daughter shared these findings in a phone call to me.  When she told me I thought “great, that’s just great, yet another label!”  What I found out about HSP was astonishing. I will include the findings and detail about HSP in part two on this subject.

As I wrote this blog post some things came up for me.  One of the discoveries, is that the sudden onset of her Trichotillomania began after taking her ADD medication.  There was no sign of such a disorder before.  I called my daughter mid post to tell her my hunch.  I explained that I wondered if there was a correlation between Trichotillomania and Straterra, Concerta and Aderol the three medications she had taken for ADD.  I left this message on her voicemail and she called me back after looking up the correlation.  Most of the research she managed to find were posts from parents.  These parents noticed after their children started taking the ADD medication a phenomena of picking as well as  facial and body tics.  There were posts from parents about the sudden pulling of eyelashes, eyebrows and fingernail picking.. until they bled.

There are no coincidences.

We came to these revelations as I write this blog.

Both of us  have been puzzled for the past five years at the reasons behind this sudden onset of this condition.  Both my daughter and I feel there is a connection, even though she has stopped the medication almost four years now.  Perhaps the medication changed something chemically and has left her with this condition.  We will never know, because the producers of these products wouldn’t admit to it.  Though many of the side effects listed for these medications don’t specifically mention Trichotillomania, they do mention Tics.  Again, this condition has been a puzzle with the inability to pinpoint the exact time and reason for the onset of this condition… until the writing of this post.  While we are unhappy with the discovery that the medication has had a lasting effect, at the same time we are filled with joy at locating a source for the condition.  She can now work to clear this with alternative therapies such as energy medicine EFT( emotional freedom technique) and meditation.

Question Everything!

The point of this post is to shift your thinking … just a little.  In that labeling yourself and labeling your children creates a “buying into” of what is acceptable or the norm.  This buying into only encourages the production and philosophy of a money making machine, big pharma. When we stop buying into the definition of normal, which was created by mere mortals we call other human beings who for what ever reason, be it profit or fame have coined these labels without regard for the long term affects of their behavior pill.

In a future post on this topic I will reveal to you the original conception of what we now know as ADD.  Including astonishing research I have done on the subject.  Perhaps medicating ourselves and  our children or labeling ourselves and our children ADD  isn’t a solution but rather a band aid.  Gifted adults and children are being forced into a square hole when the original intention of their lives is to remain round.

We give our children and ourselves a behavior band aid.  I ask who is really benefiting from the behavior pill?  Our education methods and systems haven’t changed much since the days of one room school houses.  Does society and parents need to conform to these gifted souls arriving on our planet ? Or is it easier on all of us to force our children and ourselves into the same square hole?

Please read part two of this post coming soon. I will explain the label  HSP and the reason it is frequently mistaken for the label ADD.  I welcome your thoughts and encourage dialog on this subject.  Stay tuned for part two.

I don’t believe in ADD and ADHD labeling as a disability but rather an opportunity to explore new ways of looking at the special gifts of those who might not fit our typical  or cultural definition of normal.

If you or someone you know would like to explore coaching around a true disability please visit this link.

How to handle disagreements and get clarity

A few weeks ago, my sister posted old family  photos on Facebook.  There was a photo of my mother when she was thirteen along with a photo of my father and assorted other photos.  One of my cousins commented on the photo, she remembers my mother loaning her a coat and some gloves when she was a teen.  My cousin remarked that she still remembers how my mother told her not to be nervous going to the party and that she looked pretty.  My mother told her to be herself and all would work out.

When I saw this remark or comment on Facebook , I felt compelled to let my cousin know how precious this moment was.  I mentioned that I’m glad that she had that experience and wished that I had known my mother when she was healthy and able to uplift someone like that.  I also commented that I was unable to receive that kind of support, since my mother was ill during my childhood and there wasn’t any opportunity… being the seventh of nine children to have moments like that.  My mother was just plain too tired.

I also commented after a friend from high school posted her remark about my father’s photo.  She said that she remembered my Dad  was always nice to her.  I remarked after that comment that my father was nice to all my female friends. Which only really meant that he was tough on the male friends and dates that came over to pick me up.

After my two comments I received some messages from my sister’s husband of which who posted the photos.  My brother in- law  took offense to my comments and proceeded to lecture me on Facebook.  I read his comments and realized he had taken what I had said out of context.  My comments were not intended to offend him or my sister.  I was puzzled at the strength of his words in telling me I should respect my parents for their efforts in raising me.

Being lectured as an adult by another adult made my ego flare up, momentarily.  I am human after all.  I had some options, I could have been confrontational, sarcastic and rude and kept this banter going on and on in a public forum. We all battle our ego’s.  You better believe I did a good deal of grumbling to my self.  Some of these grumblings  included, how dare he scold me.  How would he know what my experience is with my parents?  Grumbling that I was simply responding to other people’s posts about the photo’s its not as if I just randomly said such things.  Then I had to look at how I let these words, these lecturing words bother me and why.

You see  he objected from his perception of my parents.  Often people want you to see things from their perception and will try to scold you into shame or control your thoughts and feelings.  Years ago I may have shot back with something sarcastic or taken offense at his tone and control.

Since I’ve studied the ego and the perceptions people have it has been easier to respond to verbal attacks and not take it personally. Realize people come from their own perspectives based on their beliefs.  Beliefs come from our ancestry namely parents, other adults and peers and its who we get most of our beliefs from.  My brother in-law and including my sister did not experience my parents quite the way I did so it would be true for them that they have a different belief system.  Who is wrong?  No one… we are both correct.

Even though he interpreted my comments incorrectly he assumed that I was making statements that were negative.  Assuming is another area that can get us into trouble, especially on social networking sites that leave a lot of room for interpretations.  My sister who was the third child can have a completely different experience than the seventh child might have.  Since she is 10 years my senior, she was already married and living out of our family home when I was 10 years old. What I experienced was measurably different than her so my perceptions of my childhood are mine and no one else’s.  There was no point in trying to argue my feelings and perceptions or theirs.

When we meet this type of attack in our day to day lives, whether its family or friends or social networking acquaintances, we can learn how to respond by honoring the other person’s perspective.  It doesn’t and probably won’t be exactly like mine or yours.  Since our beliefs are formed from different sources, how could we expect someone to think and react exactly the same?

All attack is from ego.  The ego serves us both positively and negatively.  The ego fights for its existence and nobody wins trying to fight someones ego.  Instead I answered the comments made with a question to clarify what my brother in law thought I meant.  When we clarify we are not assuming anything and have a much clearer understanding of the reason’s behind the attack.

It takes practice to come from this place.  The first place we typically want to go is reaction , our ego flares up and this is how misunderstandings prevail. By observing our own feelings and reactions first and questioning why this type of comment would disturb us in the first place is telling. Perhaps we haven’t fully forgiven someone, or maybe we need to look deeper.  If we have fully resolved the issue within us someone else’s comments or scolding wouldn’t have any affect whatsoever.

To disarm any potential attacks I suggest giving time before firing off a response whether it is through social networking or in person. Check in with yourself on how you might be perceiving the words and realize that they (the attacker) is right in that they are coming from their own beliefs.  To discredit them by firing attack words back is essentially telling them their belief system is wrong.  How would you know?  Its funny when you dissect things like this and it can truly make you laugh out loud.  When you do this you disarm any potential disagreement first from yourself and then outwardly with others.

If you tell the attacker that coming from their perspective they are right and that you too have a perspective that is also right can so dismantle the opportunity for disagreement. It will amaze you.  When I have suggested this to people that I have worked with their immediate response is that they don’t want to give up control and admit that someone might be right.  I say this is being more in control by not playing the battle of the will or ego.  You are in charge in this instance.  Its highly empowering.  Give it a try.  I would love your comments and feedback. Please accept this invitation for discussion.  Looking forward to your comments.

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Living in the Land of Should

Sitting in the land of Should

I’m resolving to be more attentive to my blog postings and website updates.  There, I said it.  When I make a commitment as wide spread as this one you can count on it.

I didn’t want to be typical and talk about New Year resolutions in the typical sense.  We all think about what changes we will make and what needs to happen to make life better, easier and simplified.  When resolutions come from only your perspective they work very well.  If they come from someplace else you are now entering the Land of Should…

Just for a moment I want to take you to a land in which we have all been or currently reside and that is the Land of Should.  If your resolutions take you to this land frequently and you reside there more of the time…please read on.

In the Land of Should the pasture is wide and endless, the streets circle back upon themselves and they never really quite go anywhere except back to the beginning.  This land has been built by well meaning other people, friends, family, neighbors, co workers, significant others, spouses and children.  It also was built by parents who are either alive or have long passed on.  You might be surprised that it is also built by the little voices that we listen to residing in our own mind.  Incidentally these chattering voices can come from the recordings received in our subconscious from any of afore mentioned people.  We can’t discount the effect of the contractors or designers which need to be included in the development of the land of should.  The architect’s and impact of this land includes the media and the messages we agree with.

The street signs in the Land of Should, are carved in a really nice font.  Beware however, as you travel this land that the street names change constantly, oh yes some remain the same but others are added frequently.  This creates confusion when traveling through the landscape of the Land of Should.

The street signs might read… I should lose weight, I should quit smoking, I should call my family more often, I should read more, I should exercise, I should sleep more, I should wake up earlier, I should find a new job, I should be more organized, I should go to church, I should clean my closets, I should eat better… the signs and signals are endless.

The buildings and homes in the Land of Should are very large.  So large that they sink in the ground just a little. The weight of the homes and buildings where all the Should’rs work and live are too heavy for the ground they are built upon.  The peculiar thing about each of these buildings is the addresses start with the words Guilt.  So a typical street address would look something like this: Guilt — I should get organized, Land of Should USA or you may fill in whatever country in which you reside.

As you are lazily driving here with me through the Land of Should, the radio is playing and it breaks for a commercial.  The announcer says “hey people of the Land of Should… how many times have you asked yourself today why should I?”  And more importantly, the announcer asks, “who’s should is it?”  If it’s your should and truly yours, why haven’t you?  Could you take your list of shoulds and turn them into ‘if I wanted to I could?’  If you truly can’t take ownership of your shoulds…should they be there at all?

I’m certain you’ve already resolved to change in 2010.  I urge you to move out of the land of should where the foundation is firmer the streets and directions are clear and you have a solid path for successfully living in alignment with your goals for a simple, fulfilling and happier life.  Just ask yourself the questions above when you either mentally, or verbally say “I should”.  When well meaning friends and family, co-workers and parents tell you, that “you should” let them know that you are eliminating the word from your vocabulary in 2010.  That also means that you too must stop imposing your “shoulds” on everyone else.  Your goals and resolutions have a far greater chance of success if you own them, rather than someone else.

As a coach I often hear the “I should” from client’s.  These statements never pass unchallenged.

If you or someone you know would like to move out of the Land of Should, you can contact me via the contact page on this website.  I have only a few openings for new clients this month.  Stay tuned for more postings, as I mentioned… I have committed to frequent postings.

One Life Coach’s perspective on the health insurance debate

Today is the last day I, my husband and my college age daughter will have the privilege of having health insurance coverage, previously supplied by my husband’s employer. My husband was laid-off just about two months ago from the local government. He is a building inspector. Weighing in on the health care debate, one might think that in my current position, losing my health care insurance, I would be in favor of passing the public option health plan.

It would be so easy for me to say, yes, help me get coverage so I may feel more comfortable and won’t worry if I get sick or if my daughter or husband gets ill. It would be so simple. Having known this was coming since May and consequently watching the frequent publicized disagreements about a massive plan to insure most of the uninsured, afforded me the opportunity to look at a much bigger picture, than just my own personal situation.

Life Coaches, such as myself assist people in uncovering their potential. I gave serious thought on how this relates to our current health insurance crisis and the uninsured people in America. This big picture thinking set me on a path to wonder how the poor, underemployed and unemployed end up needing such basic rights as being able to receive good, quality affordable health care coverage.

America is a place of dreams and opportunities. Many people come to this fair land knowing that if you work hard you can be and do anything you desire. Well at least it has been that way for centuries.

Which brings me to the public health care option. When did we become a nation of accepting the mediocre. When we hand out health insurance run by our government, what incentive does it give the general population to rise above their condition? Forcing the public option keeps people where they are, accepts and endorses their life condition, instead of looking for a way to rise above the unacceptable.

Are there exceptions? Of course, those who are physically and mentally disabled, the elderly and children deserve assistance in a public plan and we have a moral obligation to insure they are well taken care of. Not able bodied healthy adults,who are capable of contributing to their own life with support of another kind.

Instead what policy could we look at that would invest trillions to the uplifting of people  which supplies the chance of providing for themselves? The majority of Americans are proud hard working people. If given the opportunity to be educated, retrained and their gifts and talents recognized and utilized, more Americans would be able to afford to pay for their own health care plan and would feel better about themselves in doing so. So what is the answer to rising above our current condition? Education.

Could we consider for a moment a highly educated America. One that creates and inspires innovation and contributes back to our society. By investing in, and providing for quality free higher education of all our children and all of our adult population. People would have the choice to elevate themselves, rise out of their current condition and be able to afford to provide for themselves and their families. Investing trillions in America’s human capital, the people, would be by far a better investment than handing people a way to stay where they are. An educated public would be a healthier public.

Would there be those who are perfectly capable but reject participating in receiving a higher education than High School? Of course there would still be some. This is America the land of choice. Its my guess the majority of people would take the opportunity and would choose to help themselves.

If we are to socialize anything it should be that every American has the wide open opportunity to receive lower level and higher level education, providing the chance to rise out of their current condition.  It is not the role of government to endorse or agree with conditions of  the unemployed, the uninsured or the able bodied poor.

Over time an educated society would create jobs, invent, teach, cure, provide leadership and prosper. The playing field would be truly one of equal opportunity. America could actually be the land of dreams once more.

So that’s my two cents on a trillion dollar issue. I respect all comments and would love to hear what your thoughts are. Please leave your response below. All fair minded, respectful replies will be approved.

Blurring the lines between what we do and who we are

My daughter was a young student of dance, voice & drama. She would be anxiously awaiting my arrival home from work so I could take her to her dance class. I had a mini-van, which the salesperson who sold it to me exclaimed it would seat seven passengers but had thirteen cup holders, best of all it had an automatic door opener. With just a push of a button the door would electronically open and at that time in my busy work life never needing to get out of my car to load a passenger seemed like a good idea.

On many evenings after a 45 minute commute home from work, I wouldn’t even put the car into park, hitting the electronic door button and yelling towards the door of my home, “get in, we are going to be late”. Still in my suit and pumps and having skipped lunch and now dinner, she could feel my tension. Trying to switch from director/manager to loving mother was more challenging then the deadlines I faced at the daily newspaper I worked for. Now, racing to dance class, the next thing on my list, and weaving in and out of traffic to make the class on time, didn’t provide for the Mother /daughter relationship moment I thought I was providing.

Any ambitious parent who works outside of the home, may not realize that the lines sometimes blur between who we are and what we do for a living. The price I paid for blurring the lines took its toll on my family, relationships, my health and my mind.

As a major offender of blurring the lines I defined myself as a Marketing, Promotions and Sales Director, the one who won contests, exceeded company objectives, earned career advancements and raised children. I was the epitome of the saying "all work and no play". I convinced my self I was sacrificing now by working hard and earning money so my children could have and do things their peers were able to have and do.  However in order to keep up the abundant work schedule and quality relationships with friends, family and children there would have needed to be two of me.

The two of me would have included the mother who was warm, caring and had time for long conversations, listening, quality time, self care and play and the one who could problem solve, create budgets, hire train and treat  customers as if they were your close family. Alas there was only one of me. The one who managed her home and family the same as she ran her career. On the clock, on the agenda, on task, on deadline, no excuses, no time for casual conversations with friends, of course no personal calls at work and the list goes on.

Mornings were a regimen of hurry and eat your breakfast, I can’t be late, chew faster, your taking your time and you need to hurry, grab your backpack I’ll be waiting in the car, what do you mean you need your report card signed we are already in the car, why didn’t you give that to me last night?

Evenings were similar, do your homework, lets go, lay your clothes out for school, eat your dinner you have to study for that test yet tonight and practice your dance steps. I have laundry and weeding and a presentation to finish for tomorrow, I can’t take you to your friends house after school.

Weekends were full of the things that didn’t get done during the week, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry and meal planning for the coming week. Work didn’t stop and work didn’t begin, it was work, work work 7 days a week.

Is any of this sounding familiar yet? We live in a world where we set the bar high, never schedule down time for the simple the uncomplicated the quiet. Then we send our children to school having experienced this pace their whole lives and expect them to sit in a chair for 6 or more hours a day and pay attention (that’s another blog for another time)

Beam me up Scotty

Once while driving home from work, I sat at a traffic light. At some point before the light turned green, while waiting, I had disappeared. When I came back to my conscious mind I found myself driving on a road and unbelievable as it may seem, couldn’t figure out where I was. It took a few minutes to realize that I had driven west of where I was headed and it scared me.

I would have had to make a left hand turn without consciously doing so. I called my husband and daughter to let them know I would be home shortly. I told them what happned, I laughed, sort of and said I apparently had gotten “beamed up Scotty”. The price paid for blurring the lines is the conscious mind disappears sometimes and very robot like ,we do respond and react to the circumstances of our life much of the time in dream state.

When corporate restructuring came to visit my company, a crossroad appeared before me. I had devoted my life to this organization for over 20 years. As you have read, I had a great work ethic, working sixty plus hours each week which made it difficult to have the energy for anything more than my job.  My new job under the restructuring plan would force me to travel out of state weekly. My daughter then 14, would be left on her own much of the day. There would be many arrangements to be made including new responsibilities placed on her step-dad such as leaving work early to get her to her dance classes and other school activities, homework and social time with her friends.

The Dream

During the corporate restructuring and having this prey on my mind like a presidential debate, hashing the pro’s of this and the con’s of that. In the midst of all the mind chatter, one evening I had a dream.

I had a dream I was leaving work for home. As I walked the block or so to the parking lot, I noticed one of my co-workers walking on the opposite side of the street. (This woman, my co-worker Andi, in my non dream state was a part time worker. She had always posed a threat to my position in that she had similar experience as me, and in her part time hours, it was my perception that she wanted my job.)

She was walking a Great Dane in my dream, having difficulty holding onto the dog on the leash. She lost control of the leash with the gigantic dog and he crossed to my side of the street. I quickened my pace to get to my car and almost reaching the door of my vehicle the dog jumped on my back, paws on my shoulders. I tried to shake the dog free of me and wasn’t able to get the dog off my back so I could get in my car and go home. After several attempts I was able to shake the dog off, and when I turned around to see where the dog had gone, I saw him standing in the parking lot. On his back was my 14 year old daughter. She was wearing a white cotton gown, her long hair spilling over the dog as she was slumped over this Great Dane, as a rider on a horse.

The dog turned and ran with my daughter on his back. There was a sense of danger for my daughter and suddenly I wasn’t chasing the dog, but rescuing my daughter. He ran towards the building of my work. I chased the dog, running as fast as I could, but in my dream I never caught the dog or my daughter…and I woke up.

I’ve never had a dream that upon awakening, I knew exactly what the dream meant. I knew with certainty the dog was my job. I knew that if I chased the dog, I would lose my daughter. Perhaps the loss wouldn’t be in the physical sense, but a loss that I could never get back, a loss of opportunity to build the kind of relationship based on love, attention, time and play not material things.

My decision was made that day. I resigned from my position.  For a few years after that it took some time to get my health back. Little did I realize the toll it had taken on me physically. My body decided that it didn’t understand rest, so when I finally slowed down, illness came to visit me. (another blog entirely)  We learned to live with less material things for a while. I always knew I made the right choice. My older children who were out of the house by them, told me that they liked me better now then then. I seemed happier, more peaceful and as a result we were able to build a better relationship.

Sometimes we blur the lines between what we do and who we are as people. We assume we must run our lives, much like we run our careers, business. Is it possible to work and be who we are? The answer is yes. Becoming aware has a lot to do with the ability to separate between earning a living and living to earn.

The outcome

My 14 year old is now twenty years old, tomorrow July 3rd. I am so proud of her. She enters her Junior year of college at Columbia College Chicago. At age 16 she became involved in learning about the environment. At age 17 as a result of an essay, earned a trip to George Washington University, all expenses paid with thousands of others, mostly college age students selected to learn about environmental issues, how to speak to congress and put together teams to present ideas on saving endangered rain forests. Her degree field is in Performance Art Management. Her goal is to produce environmentally friendly festivals and events and to give back to the earth.

My son is a talented illustrator and animator, finishing his degree at College of Creative Studies. He is the owner of Detroit Roots, a full service design company. My oldest daughter is married and the mother of my two precious grandchildren and works in the medical field.

After recovering from my illness. I found a path that allowed me to share lessons learned. I became a trained Life Coach, working as a solo-preneur and loving every minute of life. Freedom Life Coaching Company is the name of my business, where I help people to live to their fullest potential, live to maintain balance, creativity and strong relationships both personally and professionally.Your comments are always welcome and encouraged. I would love to hear your thoughts. If you would like to contact me or communicate privately you may do so by visiting the contact page at

Have a blessed life, its always within your reach!

Are you listening, Do you hear what I hear?

Are you truly listening or do you simply hear?

It has always been my observation there is a common thread amongst most people. Most people just want to be listened to. Would you agree?

Perhaps the knack for becoming a good listener stemmed from being the seventh of nine children. Now that I’m older and a parent of three adult children, I can understand that it would have been difficult to listen to that many children at the same time. Having the feeling of not being listened to was the motivator to become a better listener. Does that make sense?

But how much listening do we really do? Sometimes you might confuse listening with hearing. You can say, “I hear you”, but many of us have trouble with truly listening. So what is the distinction between listening & hearing?

Since I’ve been able to improve my listening skills, I notice when others are truly listening to me. Often I notice other people may hear the first three words of what you are saying, and then they begin to revert to their own minds to begin thinking about their reply, before you’ve finished talking. Have you ever noticed that in a conversation?

As a coach, the number one responsibility I have to my clients is to listen. To be an observer of pitch, tone, body language and even silence, yes even silence speaks louder than words.

Can we listen all the time? I’s not possible to be truly there every moment of every day and available to listen to everyone. It might be slightly energy draining to always listen. There are times when hearing is enough.

The distinction to listen or hear presents itself all of the time. Sometimes someone needs just a sounding board and hearing is enough, sometimes they need something more. The opportunity to hear or listen presents itself in our daily lives; the trick is to know when it’s important to truly listen.

Listening is a skill you can learn

Like any skill, where there is a desire to learn or improve you can become be a skilled listener. There have been several different studies on how we communicate, indicating that if people are totally harmonious at the time of communicating, In their interaction fifty-five percent will consist of body language, thirty-eight percent of their communication will be tone of voice and a mere seven percent is actual words.

When you incorporate sight, sound and intuition into how you listen, you are listening, and you are listening beyond words. Your comprehension for the essence of the conversation will be greater and your peak listening skills will teach you so much about the other person, more than mere hearing will.

To truly listen, it’s important to remain curious and without an agenda. You must have the time to listen and you must be fully present to the other person. Realize that silence between communications allows for words to land. I don’t know about you, but prior to improving my listening skills, I thought every moment of communicating with someone needed to be filled with sound. I’m here to tell you, let the words land for a moment and create the space for the other person to feel truly understood. How does becoming a better listener enhance your life, relationships and career?

Imagine for a moment that you have the floor at an event. Everyone there is in attendance to listen to what you have to say. There is full presence in the room and all eyes are trained upon you. The room is totally silent and you have everyone’s rapt attention.

How would this feel to know that you are being listened to without judgment, agenda or filters, you can just speak and the others are drinking in your words, body language and  pace.

Contextual listening is the skill of listening that can tell you so much. When you contextual listen you can hear the slowing or quickness of the speaker, the emphasis that the speaker places on certain words can be very telling, and sometimes it’s not what they are saying, but what they are not saying that really tells the story. This is helpful in many types of relationships, with client’s, children, spouses and potential prospects for business.

If you could listen contextually with your children, you will hear their passion for certain subjects as well as their disdain. You would be able to tell whether they broke the prized vase, or without them telling you straight up, you would know that they knew who did break it. With your clients you may hear “no, I don’t want your products.” However, if you contextually listen to their tone and which words they emphasize it will indicate whether they don’t want your products now, or if they don’t want your products ever. The emphasis and tone will be clear to you if you truly listen. When you listen it will invite you to explore further or leave the matter alone.

As a trained life coach I am devoted to the forward movement of people toward living the life they desire. I have an opening for someone ready to discover their passion, willing to remove obstacles in their path, or who may want an objective listener. Contact me at and visit the contact page.

You may also wish to sign up for my weekly express news, which offers real solutions to everyday challenges.

If you would like to comment or respond, I welcome your input. Please share your comments at the bottom of this blog.

Until next time!

Don’t take it personally, it’s not about you, or is it?

I wanted to share some wisdom and a life lesson that I have learned to apply.  Through self development along with the beautiful journey of becoming a coach, helped me see clearly that I no longer need to take things personally.

I would need a novel length blog to share the number of times I drank other people’s poison and took things personally.  I’m talking about the times, when a family member, a co-worker, a friend or significant other may have said or done something to you that you have taken personally, or in other words, have held on to.

When you react to other people’s words, gossip, unloving comments about your looks, or who you are as a person, the tendency is to give those words and actions the power to continue to live. What you cannot own, cannot hurt you.

Why do you think you take such offense when you are thrown these verbal attacks?

This will be one of the toughest lessons to learn, and as I mentioned earlier I have had plenty of reason to learn this in my lifetime.  Being deeply wounded by people’s unloving thoughts or actions toward you, only builds resentment toward the person who spoke them.  What it also does is diminish you, as you gripe, stomp, repeat the story to whomever will listen, or in short you could say you are drinking in the poison.

pepaw-034The vial of poison then turns into a gallon, a river or an ocean.  Yet in a really insane way we react this way to seek allies.  When we keep the story going we are actually looking for someone to disprove those unkind words or deeds.  When in reality we already know what the answer is.

If you would take some time to examine how you hold on to the unkind words of another, and notice how you rehash the whole injustice to your self and family or friends, you might notice its likened to a swirling whirlpool.  You keep the poison, then transfer the poison or in some cases react by spreading revengeful poison of our own, projecting and protecting yourself, from what?

When we take things personally what’s really going on is our incessant need to feed our ego.  Yes, the ego serves you negatively.  In fact the ego is at the root of both the person who slung the harmful words at you, as well as at the root of taking it personally, your victimization.

Holding on to those thoughts and words is not in your best interest.  When you do, you allow your ego to survive as well as the ego of the verbal perpetrator, its a no win situation.  The ego does not have either of your best interests at heart.

If you can shift your thinking in these terms; the person trying to harm you with words is not being who they truly are but are acting from their ego. If you can grasp this, you’ll have a better time understanding.  By reacting to their ego (their remarks, gossip, unkind deeds) you feed their ego and yours.

How do you counteract hurtful words and actions of others?

How do you deprive your ego from its ultimate goal, survival?

Forgiveness, love and compassion are the key components to overcome the ego.  Two oppositional feelings cannot coexist.  You either are in ego or you are in a state of love and compassion.  Which state would you prefer to be?

For starters, your defense against reacting would be no counter response of any kind.  Keep in mind the verbal perpetrator is the one in pain and the one who is unhappy.  I doubt in any other circumstance that if you saw someone in pain, you would make their pain worse by adding to it.

You have a choice, you can either allow the words and deeds of another person’s ego to poison you and you can keep the poison circulating by retelling it and retaliating.  Or you can respond with understanding that the person is acting out of threat, pain or their ego.  All unloving comments, including gossip or rumors stem from the ego.

Once you’ve forgiven the gossiper or mudslinger, the next step is to lovingly and compassionately understand that anything coming from ego is based on past circumstances of their lives.  The way you respond to the negative situation is also based on past circumstances in your life.

Experiment is the greatest teacher.  Give it a try! Stop feeding your own ego and you will stop contributing to their ego by repeating and retaliating.  Don’t drink the poison> then see what happens.

I would love your comments and feedback and the outcome you may have experienced in putting this new technique to work for yourself.  You can leave your remarks in the comment area below this post.

Freedom Life Coaching assists individuals in discover of self limiting belief’s and behaviors so you may live with clarity and purpose.

I currently have an opening for a new learner who would like to live their life to their fullest potential.

Visit my contact page at or send a private Email to or

Until next time…

Is it your time to redefine?

chicago-6Is it your time to redefine?

I’ve been thinking about the bigger picture as it relates to our current economic situation. When I think about money, I think about who created it in the first place. I started thinking about this life as a dream, and money as an illusion of that dream.

So if money is an illusion, then how could we change the way we think about it?  My thoughts take me to the universe or our creator.  Whatever your thoughts about the universe or our creator are, could you consider this time be our opportunity to redefine what is truly abundant in our lives.

Yes, I do think of this as an opportunity.  Perhaps our current economic situation is perfect and what is needed to bring balance back into our lives, providing us with an opportunity to define ourselves in a new way.

For each one of us abundance means something different.  For some it could be the eternal search for external things we can have, own and buy.  Maybe we’ve become really attached to those things and are on a quest for more. Always searching for that moment in our lives that tells us we have arrived.

Once we get there, to the mountain top of arriving, do we begin to look for the next set of things that will tell us we have arrived.  Do we tell ourselves when we have this or that, I can say I’m there?  Where is there, and what does that look like?

If money is an illusion, aren’t the external things we think we need to have, an illusion as well.  For some of us we are truly abundant when we are grateful for our friends, family and children and our lives are full of purpose.  For others abundance is defined as living to others expectations instead of our own.

Things have been out of  balance for years leading up to now.  We’ve over worked, over sacrificed and over spent. Consider the possibility that this moment is perfect to force us to redefine what it truly means to be abundant.  Making us all  take a look at what we are attached to and why, how it has served us to this point and how might we proceed differently.  I liken it to being hit on the head with a proverbial 2 x 4.

Some of us ignored the intuition, that inner voice that nagged within us telling us we don’t need that extra big screen TV or those additional $300.00 handbags.  So what do we do now, with this marvelous opportunity to redefine our lives?

Maybe it’s time to look at our values, become creative thinkers, uncover lost passions and align them with purpose. Take a transformational approach allowing for the redefinition of what is truly meant by being abundant. Redefine your life for greater satisfaction.  Listen to your inner voice or intuition, there is a clear message being given, we just need to hear it.

Your comments and insight are welcome here.  Leave your ideas on this subject by going to the comment area on this website. If you feel someone you know would benefit from this information, please share.  I have an opening for a new learner. Someone would like to redefine abundance and align passion with purpose to arrive at their mountain top. Contact me via the toll free number on the contact page at, via email at .

Until next time…

Is life like a broken record? Starting over again…

This is about starting over again. Not just starting over once, but again and again, if this is you then read on.  This post was prompted by a discussion with my adult son concerning his recent break up with his girlfriend of five years. Our discussion reminded me of my own experience with having to start over (many times) and the very effective way I eventually learned to change that.

Do you ever feel your life seems like a broken record?  Yes, the circumstance might change but the overall theme remains the same.  Whether its relationships, careers or family situations that force you to hear that old familiar bump, bump, bump, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Sometimes looking back, I feel as if I’ve lived many lives contained within this one life.  There were times I’d do the tango with life one minute, with purposeful and passionate moves.  Just when I thought I learned those steps, along comes a switch in the music and suddenly I would be doing the “jerk and the monkey”  switching from the erratic movements of the jerk to the flailing movements of the dance called the monkey and then back again.

The interesting thing is it took me half my life to realize I needed to take a look at the bigger picture as it related to the many times I found myself starting over.  Looking at the big picture and not the pieces, allowed me to see a common theme between the times of doing the tango and the times of doing the jerk and the monkey dance.

When you find yourself in a situation that is life changing, be it a break-up, a job loss or any loss that forces you to start over, the tendency is to look at the situation microscopically.  We move directly toward self blame or maybe even victimization (blaming others).  We begin to analyze and hash over; what you should have done, what you could have said, what they did or didn’t do. Our inclination is to stay in one gigantic pity party based on the micro facts of a situation.  We get stuck there and tell our story to any available willing listener, over and over like a broken record.  We remain focused primarily on the minute details of our current crisis.

I have in the past been in this stage of micro facts and pity parties more times than I care to count, until one day fatigue set in.  It was time to take a look at the big picture.  I had to ask myself some difficult questions.  The primary question I had to ask of myself is; what is the prevailing pattern or theme of my life that has placed me  in a position of having to start over?

For me the broken record was relationships.  Looking at the theme or bigger picture allowed me to see the similarity of the traits between each of the individuals I had attracted to my life over and over again.  Step two was asking the next question; what role did I play in attracting the same individual to my life as before?  Sure, they were different people but there was a common trait they each possessed.

Stepping out of the self blame game and the victim role enabled me to become my own observer.  Looking at the relationships as a whole (bigger picture)  and in a detached manner allowed me to see the common thread and the role I played in attracting the same relationships with the same outcome.  I had to choose to break the pattern thereby tossing out that broken record and redefine my approach going forward.

Whatever repeated pattern you are living with, I encourage you to reflect by looking at the pattern in a big picture way.  What are the similarities, the things that seem to return time after time?  What you will discover will be enlightening and you will have a new consciousness that will help you to break the pattern.

If you would like to learn how to be your own observer, I currently have an opening for a new learner.  You can start by requesting the Clean Sweep a free assessment that takes a look at four areas of your life or by taking a look at the 200 Top Toleration’s’ assessment available at .

You can contact me directly by visiting the contact page on the same website either by using the toll free number or via email.  If you know someone who would benefit from this information, please share it.  I welcome all comments on this blog and always welcome input or feedback.

Until next time.

Sue Birkam

Freedom Life Coaching Company

“Living to your fullest potential”

877.97Free1 (Toll Free Voice Mail )